The Main Characters of The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis: Aged and weary, Iris Chase reminisces about her sister Laura, who was renowned for writing The Blind Assassin. Laura’s novel depicted an illicit affair, where the two lovers create a pulpy sci-fi story.

Widely seen as one of Atwood’s best works, The Blind Assassin is an acclaimed piece of fiction that would probably be the hardest book to adapt. After all, it takes place in the very real ’40s and in places that resemble something that we’d see in Star Wars! Hardly the most compatible of settings are they?

The last few years have seen the rise of heady, mind-bending shows such as Westworld and Legion, so why shouldn’t someone tackle the layered, mysterious and utterly unique tale that is The Blind Assassin? All it would need is a strong hand to oversee the project and some Game of Thrones-esque budgets for all of those the period costumes, along with the CGI and prosthetics – there are those aliens to consider after all!

There’s already so much good stuff to watch on television right now, but after seeing the The Handmaid’s Tale alongside the upcoming show #AliasGrace, it’s clear that there could be even more fantastic stories to be found in Margaret Atwood’s impressive bibliography. Who knows? If we’re really lucky, fans may just be fortunate enough to see some of these acclaimed books brought to life onscreen.

The Characters

Iris Chase Griffen: The narrator and protagonist of the tale.

“Why is it we want so badly to memorialize ourselves? Even while we’re still alive. We wish to assert our existence, like dogs peeing on fire hydrants.”

Laura Chase: Iris’ sister, whose suicide opens the book and who is named as the author of the novel within. She is a sensitive soul, more attuned to other people and she dislikes Richard on sight and tries to escape him first by working at a carnaval, then by dropping out of school.

“You shouldn’t do that,” said Laura. “You could set yourself on fire.”

Richard E. Griffen: Iris’s ruthless, older husband with political ambitions.
When she was a teenager, Iris was told by her father that he expects Richard Griffen to propose to her and that he has already given his consent. Griffen, a wealthy industrialist from Toronto, is much older than Iris but by marrying him, Iris can save the family business and ensure that Laura will be provided for. After the wedding, Richard and Iris spend several months in Europe on their honeymoon. By the time they return, Winifred Griffen Prior, Iris’s new sister-in-law, had already decorated and furnished the new home Richard bought by telegram. Iris quickly learns that Winifred controls all of Richard’s household affairs, although she does not live with the couple.

When Iris’ father passed away, Richard does not tell the new bride in fear of shadowing her honeymoon, but still, Iris feels betrayed. The factory could not be saved and she is trapped in a loveless marriage

“I feel despised there, for having so little money; also for once having had so much. I never actually had it, of course. Father had it, and then Richard. But money was imputed to me, the same way crimes are imputed to those who’ve simply been present at them.”

Winifred Griffen Prior: Iris’ fashionable, manipulative, and social-climbing sister-in-law.

Alex Thomas: A young author with Communist sympathies who has an affair with Iris and is one of the protagonists in the novel within. When Iris and Laura are teenagers, their father’s girlfriend introduces them to Alex Thomas, a young union organizer and socialist activist. Soon after they meet, the factory workers riot, and the factory burns. Alex is suspected of instigating the trouble, and Iris and Laura hide him in their attic from the authorities.

“Don’t blame me, blame history, he says, smiling. Such things happen. Falling in love has been recorded, or at least those words have.”

Cpt. Norval Chase: The father of Iris and Laura. After being seriously injured in World War I and later widowed, he begrudgingly runs the family button business while descending into alcoholism and depression.

Reenie: The loyal Chase family housekeeper who becomes like a mother to Iris and Laura.

Myra Sturgess: Reenie’s daughter, who later aids Iris in her old age.

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